Throughout the early months of the Premier League season it seemed everyone was scared of the strikers Manchester City had at their disposal.
Throughout the early months of the Premier League season it seemed everyone was scared of the strikers Manchester City had at their disposal. Pundits were queuing up to eulogise over the blossoming partnership of Sergio Aguero and Alvaro Negredo while hailing the impact of Edin Dzeko from the bench.
Since Aguero’s calf injury during City’s demolition of Arsenal in December and the niggling injuries he’s suffered ever since, the goals have come in less terrifying numbers from City’s strike force.
City have spent much of the last three months with Dzeko and Negredo as their two fit strikers, both suffering goal droughts during early 2014 (Dzeko 29th January-15th March and Negredo from the 3rd of February onwards).
Edin Dzeko has never been entirely appreciated at the Etihad Stadium and must look enviously at Alvaro Negredo, who arrived at City last summer and has achieved something of a cult hero status with many fans already.
Recently, Dzeko has been deployed by Manuel Pellegrini in the more difficult games (Manchester United, Hull and replacing Aguero against Barcelona) while Negredo has had to sustain himself in games such as Fulham at home.
Dzeko provides a focal point for the team to attack from. As a target man with the ability to hold the ball up and make short intelligent runs, Dzeko has become the perfect foil for the likes of Silva and Toure to produce the best football of their careers.
Silva, especially has profited from Dzeko’s run in the side by finally playing in his favoured ‘Number 10’ role and blossoming from the already exceptional level he was at.
This was demonstrated brilliantly when Dzeko replaced Aguero at half time of City’s Mission Impossible in the Nou Camp and instantly gave City a spark of life.
Dzeko drove City back into the match and was unlucky not to have been awarded a penalty after drawing a mistimed lunge from Gerard Pique.
Of course, Dzeko also must be able to finish well and goals such as his second at Old Trafford in March and his left footed finish at Hull 10 days earlier prove it can come natural to him, despite some of the howlers that get more recognition.
Negredo, on the other hand, since the loss of his partner in crime, Sergio Aguero, has looked out of control of his body and the ball.
His high work rate is something that English football fans love to see and is arguably a major reason as to why he has found a way into the hearts of City fans so quickly.
Recently though, he has begun to look more like that infamous metaphorical bull in that unfortunate metaphorical china shop. He has started to commit fouls regularly and get caught offside more as his frustration builds up.
The Spaniard has now not scored in 12 appearances and if City were still playing Southampton now it’s hard to imagine him scoring.
His eagerness to be everywhere at once also means he can’t be a focal point for the talents of Silva, Nasri and Toure to work off.
Hunters amongst you, of which I doubt there are many, will say it’s much easier to hit a target stood still and in an easy-to-reach place. The principle of being a target man for a team looking to work their way up the pitch must be to be an easy target to hit, no?
At the moment, Dzeko is flying high and allowing the team around him to do the same. City face a potential title decider this weekend at Anfield and the temptation may be to stick a half-fit Aguero in. This would cost the title chasers their shape and everything that has made them so successful in recent weeks.